OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 499 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING A PET LEMON LAW AND THE RELEASE OF RABIES VACCINATION RECORDS TO ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER.

SUMMARY

This bill expands the protection for people who buy from a licensed pet shop a dog or cat that is ill or dies shortly after the sale.

It also requires:

1. dogs that licensed pet shops sell to have certificates of origin that identify specific information on anyone who had custody of the animal before sale, among other things; and

2. a licensed veterinarian, upon request of the chief Animal Control Officer (ACO) or any ACO, to provide the officer a copy of a rabies certificate and any associated rabies vaccination records for a dog or cat that has bitten a person or another animal. Veterinarians who refuse to provide a copy commit an infraction.

The bill also makes technical changes.

*House Amendment “A” (1) removes commercial kennels from the lemon law requirements, (2) changes the bill's certificate of origin requirements and removes cats from them, and (3) exempts cats that are spayed or neutered before sale from all pet lemon law protections. It requires reimbursement for certain costs of services and medications a consumer incurs due to a congenital defect.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

PET LEMON LAW

Refund and Reimbursement

Under current law, if, 15 days after being sold, a dog or cat becomes ill or dies of an illness that existed at the time of the sale, the pet shop, at the consumer's option, must refund the animal purchase price. It must do so in the case of (1) illness, when the consumer returns the dog or cat to the pet shop, and has a certificate from a licensed veterinarian stating that the dog or cat is ill from a condition that existed at the time of sale, and (2) death, when the consumer provides a death certificate from a licensed veterinarian that states the dog or cat died from an illness that existed at the time of sale.

If the dog or cat was ill, the pet store has to reimburse services and medication costs up to $ 200 when the consumer provides a certificate from a licensed veterinarian about the illness.

The bill:

1. adds “congenital defects” that adversely affect or will affect a dog or cat's health to any illness as triggering refund or replacement requirements and gives the consumer up to six months from the sale of a dog or cat that is diagnosed with a congenital defect to take advantage of them,

2. gives consumers 20, instead of 15, days to act when a dog or cat becomes ill or dies from an illness that existed when they bought it,

3. specifically allows the consumer to choose the veterinarian who certifies that a dog or cat died of an illness that existed when it was sold, and

4. increases, to up to $ 500 from $ 200, the amount that pet shops must reimburse consumers for the costs of services and medication that a licensed veterinarian provided an ill animal and adds animal with congenital defects to this.

The bill maintains the current requirement that the consumer provide certification from a veterinarian that the animal was sick at the time of purchase or died from a disease it had when purchased.

But, under the bill, a pet shop licensee is not subject to any of the above obligations if a cat was spayed or neutered before purchase.

By law, pet shops that violate these requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $ 500 for each animal subject to the violation.

CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN AND PROHIBITED PURCHASES

The bill requires any dog that a pet shop sells, or offers for sale, to come with a certificate of origin that identifies the name and address of the person, firm, or corporation that bred the dog and of anyone who sold the dog to a pet shop licensee. (The law requires pet shops to display the place of a dog's birth and other information, see BACKGROUND. )

The certificate must be posted in a conspicuous manner no more than 10 feet from where the dog is displayed for sale. The licensee must (1) give the consumer a copy of the certificate when it sells the animal and (2) file a copy with the Department of Agriculture no later than two days after the sale.

Prohibited Purchases

The bill prohibits a pet shop licensee from purchasing a dog or cat for resale from a breeder or any other person, firm, or corporation located outside the state that does not possess a current U. S. Department of Agriculture license and one from any applicable state agency.

Violations

A pet shop licensee who violates these requirements may be fined up to $ 100, or imprisoned up to 30 days, or both, for each violation. Each day a pet shop commits a violation constitutes a separate offense.

BACKGROUND

Dogs for Sale at Pet Shops

By law, a pet shop must post on the cage of each dog it offers for sale a sign, at least 3 inches by 5 inches, which lists (1) the dog's breed, (2) the locality and state in which it was born, and (3) any individual identifying number on the veterinary inspection certificate from the state of origin.

In addition, each pet shop must prominently display a sign stating, in black lettering that is 38 point font size on a white background, that the following information is always available on all puppies the pet shop sells:

1. date and state of birth;

2. breed, sex, and color;

3. the date the pet shop received the puppy;

4. the names and registration numbers of the parents (for American Kennel Club registerable puppies);

5. records of inoculations and worming treatments; and

6. any record of veterinary treatment or medications received to date.

The sign must include a telephone number at the agriculture department where information may be obtained regarding complaints about diseased or disabled animals offered for sale (CGS 22-344d).

Legislative History

On June 2, 2009, the House rejected Senate Amendment “A,” which had clarified that a dog or cat must have been ill at the time of purchase to qualify for a refund or replacement under the bill; (2) removed language from the underlying bill specifying that the $ 500 reimbursement for services or medications was in addition to the refund for the cost of the animal; (3) gave consumers an additional five, instead of 15, days to claim refund or replacement cost; (4) removed commercial kennels from the bill's requirements, replacing them with kennels; and (5) modified the bill's certificate of origin requirements.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

26

Nay

4

(03/20/2009)

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

41

Nay

0

(04/21/2009)